How to build a solar oven


heard about it An old saying “hot enough to boil eggs on the sidewalk”? This may seem a bit exaggerated (or even disgusting), but the sun is indeed powerful enough to cook all kinds of food-provided that you can capture, reflect or otherwise concentrate its energy rays into a small space.

Using some cheap household materials, you can build a safe and effective oven that uses the energy of the sun to generate an internal temperature of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is hot enough to cook sausage, bacon, hash browns or mashed potatoes. Of course, the conditions must be just right to heat the oven: on a hot day, the sun is in the best position, and the sun shines on the oven with strict attention to detail. However, even if you put everything together to complete this trick, your solar oven can still reach a temperature of about 160 degrees. This is enough to have an impromptu Wiener barbecue in the backyard, or make gooey chocolate morels on your next camping trip where bonfires are banned.

With the summer in full swing and the kids hanging out in the afternoon, this is the perfect time for one of our favorite family-friendly projects. Building a solar oven teaches some basic courses on physics, solar energy, and food preparation. In addition, it is very interesting, because everyone can eat the results. You only need 20 minutes and a few dollars in supplies.

Photo: Wired employees

Collect materials

  • Cardboard boxes with a volume between 1 and 2 cubic feet
  • Aluminum foil.Heavy-duty foil is the easiest to handle, but any foil will work
  • Black frying pan or pan for cooking surface
  • Insulating materials, such as polystyrene, packaging foam, newspaper or fiberglass insulation
  • Transparent plastic food wrapping paper, such as Saran wrapping paper or similar
  • Cloth tape, such as tape or electrical tape
  • Kitchen thermometer

Step 1: Think inside the box

Choose a good cardboard box. The goal is a box with a volume between 1 and 2 cubic feet, or about the size of a typical beer cooler. We used a 10 x 10 x 14 inch shipping box from Amazon and it worked well. Cut enough insulating material to align the entire inside of the box. Cover the bottom and sides, but not the flaps. You want the air inside the box to be as hot as possible. This layer will insulate the oven so that heat will not be lost too quickly through the sides of the box. Your kitchen oven works similarly, it uses insulating materials to trap heat inside.​​For additional points, please check This research report Test the efficiency of different types of oven insulation materials.

Step 2: Reflective

Cover the foam with aluminum foil and stick it in place. The shiny reflective metal allows the sun’s heat rays to be reflected inside the box, thereby heating the inside more effectively. Next, cut four pieces of aluminum foil, each piece slightly larger than the four flaps of the box. Wrap these foils on the inside of each flap. Tape the corners to keep the foil flat. You will place these reflective baffles to direct sunlight into the box, which will help increase the internal temperature of the oven.

Step 3: Set up the stage

Photo: Wired employees

Place a cooking surface in the box. You can put the food to be heated here. Use a cast iron frying pan, small saucepan, or metal plate. Use black things that retain heat, because dark cooking surfaces absorb more heat than silver or white surfaces.


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